Thursday, May 29, 2008

H e l p

Been catching up on Imogen Heap vLogs, browsing old Darren vids, playing Temposhark podcasts, listening to Kerplunk on repeat, checking out new stuff on iTunes every now and then, rummaging through old Hotel Cafe clips...


You know, stuff more like this... ^^

And less like this... >_<








Thank goodness for YouTube.

This post goes out to my big sis, who always (whether knowingly or not) let me "borrow" her cassettes (Whoa! Those are like extinct now, no?) and CDs and got me listening to stuff that usually wasn't crap. Except for that one Beastie Boys album. I never really got why you bought that.

Songs I was too young to completely understand at the time but loved and will always cherish. ; )

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

REM - Stand

B-52's - Roam

Green Day - Christie Road

Okonomiyaki: Part 3

A friend and I have an ongoing race to be the first to visit Top Cloud, the restaurant on the 33rd floor of Jongno Tower. It's a pretty neat looking building - my snapshot below (from the '07 trip) does not do it justice - you really ought to check out the architect's site if groovy buildings are your sort of thing.

So the joke originates from the fact that he thinks I've been to more places in Seoul than he - the original Seoulite - has, which usually leads to conversation like this:

What about having dinner in ______? Have you checked out the area before?
Yeah, maybe once. Let's go!
You've already been there.

A few of us met up in Hongdae and searched for some dinner. HY suggested okonomiyaki, and we actually walked by a couple of okonomiyaki places before she decided on, of course, THE okonomiyaki restaurant. It looked strangely familiar... and it hit me. I had been here once before during the restaurant's grand opening with some pals from Japan.

My friend's reaction? Priceless. Muhahaha. ^^

Fried kimchee and octopus. This is what you call "localization."

Shrimp okonomiyaki. Normally, the shrimp is supposed to be mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, but they picked it out since I don't eat it (aw, so sweet ^^), which resulted in a couple, "Did the shrimp just jump out of the okonomiyaki?" glances from the cooks at our table.

Yakisoba. Yum! Hard to go wrong with yakisoba.

The goofy, happy eaters. Somebody needs to learn how to do a countdown! *cough*
*Click here to check out the homemade version of okonomiyaki.

After dinner, we visited some beer bar that I probably wouldn't be able to find again if I tried. To my surprise, for once, there was no Hite to be found, haha!

We had been talking about London when I saw Hoegaarden on the menu... I ordered it to reminisce over the first time I tried it in Soho with S.

The same night we randomly ran into Joshua Jackson and Patrick Stewart...

I wouldn't be able to do this quite as easily 10 years ago. I heart you, Blogger.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

88 Minutes, 3 year old kimchee, and puffiness

88 Minutes comes out in theaters this Friday in Korea, but we were invited to a free preview screening for foreigners (finally, being a 외국인 comes in handy!) the other day. I had no idea what this movie was about, other than my friend's 3 second synopsis: Al Pacino has 88 minutes to figure out how not to die.

Heard it tanked in the US, so I checked some of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes...

Ouch! 6% on the Tomatometer, and Roeper actually calls it the worst movie of 2008. I think that's a bit harsh, despite the fact that I called out Pacino's wannabe hitman less than a third of the way through the film.

Is it really true that this flick came out on DVD in Europe a year ago? I've seriously got to get back on the film appreciation train... but when all's said and done, 88 Minutes wasn't that terrible. It's like watching an extra long episode of Criminal Minds, if that's your type of thing.

Moving onto more important things.

Kimchi jjigae. Not just any kimchi jjigae. This one was made with kimchi that had been aged for three years, which explained the extra special sour kick. Despite appearances, it's actually quite delicious! Just takes a bit getting used to. ^^

Pasta 12, one of the many "Italian" restaurants in Sinchon, recently reopened its doors after its redesign and basement relocation (to make room for yet another donut chain).

I was so happy to be reunited with my soy milk mushroom pasta again. ^^

Can you guess where the next 2 photos were taken?

Baskin Robbins, folks. Complete with sofas and ceramic plates. : )

Thankfully, I don't have any photographic evidence of my dinner tonight, because once again, silly ol' me went along to a sushi buffet. I can only imagine what I'll look like in the morning...

Perhaps if I manage to ward off buffets (or eat like a regular person) and start using this handy little device - the V Line Face Roller - I can start looking less like Jigglypuff?

(No, I didn't make this up.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

To Onni, from JJ

More videos from the little guy coming soon, I'm sure. ^^ This one's for you, Onni!

Hi, Grace Nuna.
How are you?
How's the weather?

***Back to Korean***
Is that right?
Nuna, what did you do today?
How do you say, "What are you going to do today?"

I only got about 3 sentences out of him today. Next time, I'm shooting for 4. ^^

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hongdae Festival

In a previous post, I mentioned a thing or two about college festivals in Korea... this week I went with a friend to his school's (Hongik Univ.) 3 day bash. Although "not as big as Yonsei's," it still felt like one big fun block party.

You can play games...

Take cheesy pictures...
(Click here for the accidental video version.)

Get distracted...

Watch a concert or two...

Dynamic Duo (Korean rap group) singing "Ring My Bell..."

Student band singing "Welcome to the Jungle..."

Their "cheer team..."

Or just find a tent to sit in, and eat up!

KH's group had prime real estate - close enough so we could watch the concert from behind the stage.

Unfortunately this was their $7 version of "nachos and cheese," which we got a kick out of. I'm sure they raised a good amount of cash! : )

Come to think of it, it was sort of like a tailgate party, minus the football. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Random thoughts

I was flipping through the Yonsei Annals (a monthly English-language, student-driven publication) today and came across a two-page spread on the pros and cons of same-sex marriage legalization. Sure, the story lacked any depth (the intro amusingly attempted to define the term "coming out" via Brokeback Mountain scenes) and this country has a long road ahead (in terms of breaking through conservatism), but it was refreshing to see the issue being raised in print...

Anyway, I'm taking part in a study on "digital visualization of culture," and have consequently started to think about how I can best express the culture of Seoul through photos... Where do I start? Here are a few ideas.
  • Ajumma, Defined
  • Mini Skirt Mania
  • The Man Purse x2 (Theirs and Their GFs)
  • Couple Clothes
  • Self Portraits - Vanity or Just Plain Fun?
  • Drinky...Drinky...Drinky...
  • Shove Me, Shove Me, But Don't Say That You're Sorry (This only works if you sing it to the tune of the Cardigans' Lovefool)
  • Mobile Addiction
  • Why Is Everything So Freakin' Cute in This City?!
Haha. Despite appearances, I'm not trying to be the least bit sarcastic. This will be fun. I love this city, and now I have an excuse to take even MORE pictures. : )

On a side note, I feel inspired. Today I sat at a cafe with three other gal pals, and we managed to have a conversation in three different languages. Sort of. It was pretty darn cool if you ask me.

Now... time to get some work done!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I <3 Sunday brunch

There's nothing better than classic American comfort food on a drizzly Sunday afternoon.

We'd all heard of Butterfinger Pancakes via friends and blogs, but hadn't actually got around to trying it until today.

The restaurant gave off a tinge of the Cafeteria vibe, except we definitely weren't in Chelsea, waiters donned bright orange and blue uniforms (yes, like the Butterfinger candy bar), the decor was a lot more diner-esque, and the service was... minimal. Come to think of it, it doesn't resemble Cafeteria at all, minus the fact that it serves an (almost) 24-hour brunch menu, and it takes a good hour to get seated.

We were STARVING and the food seemed to take an eternity... 

Susan got one of the combos - buttermilk pancakes, sausage, bacon, hash browns, and eggs sunny side up.

Anna got cheddar cheese scrambled eggs, sausage, and vegetable soup.

I ordered banana-nut pancakes...

...mozzarella scrambled eggs...

...and mashed potatoes with gravy. (You've no idea how hard mashed potatoes are to come by in Korea! Unfortunately, it wasn't anything special.)

We did a good pretty job cleaning our plates... minus the sausages (they said they were dry) and the mashed potatoes (I took it to go.)

God certainly has a sense of humor. Look what I found out the bottom of my take-out bag. ^^

We also do a pretty good job of amusing ourselves. Check out Al Borland on the right sporting brown overalls and a red flannel shirt! Korean Tool Time, anyone?

Overall, Butterfinger Pancakes hit the spot, and I'd go again just to try their gigantic $8 milkshake and waffle ice cream concoctions - but I'm convinced there's something better out there... and it's my new mission to find it!

Butterfinger Pancakes (02-3448-1070) is located in Apgujeong, pretty close to that building with King Kong hanging on the side of it... about a 5 minute cab ride from the train station, 압구정역.

I'd buy a copy

Originals from my fave amateur YouTubers... when will YouTube start a label? ; )

"Almost" - Jennifer Chung

"That Girl" - David Choi

"Does He Know" - Urban Germany

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dear oven, how I long for thee

I can't think of many Korean dishes that require quality oven time... And when I realized we didn't have one at my uncle's, the little cousin smartly replied: "This is Korea, silly, not America."

I was reminiscing over some of my oven-helped creations from back home... oh, oven, how I long for thee - even more than a tumble dryer.

Shepherd's pie...

Baked chicken with mushroom and onion gravy...


BBQ chicken and pineapple pizza...

Lemon dill salmon...

Jello cream squares...


Friday, May 16, 2008

The food tour: flavored tofu, buffet overload, and Indian

One of my new fave health snacks - flavored soft tofu with assorted toppings. It may not seem all that appetizing, especially when the directions tell you to eat it warm... but who knew sweet + tofu could be so good.

This was one was topped with a sweet soy sauce...

... and this one came with a sugary almond & walnut mix.

Other than the Cheesecake Factory, rarely can a restaurant pull off more than two cuisines and still be decent. So naturally, I was a little skeptical about dining at a place that serves Mexican, Korean, Japanese, AND Italian "inspired" chicken dishes...

I opted for the "Korean version." It wasn't bad... but not worth my 5,500 won.

Thankfully, my friends seemed to enjoy their dishes (chicken kangpoongi and chicken curry) a little more.

Jihey Onni recently introduced me to this two story basement bar that I would never have known existed...

It was here that I had my first Korean cape cod - I love it when there's no soju on the menu! ; ) It was served with nori (dried seaweed) and a sweet soy vinaigrette.

I finally tried one of those dime a dozen tuna restaurants (this one in Jogno), and I doubt I'll be frequenting them again anytime soon. Fish like maguro, hamachi, and sake tend to come frozen at these types of places, but our salmon was literally frozen. Thaw, people, thaw!

I definitely made up for it thanks to Aunty Mina, who was in town again. ^^

We had dinner at the Grand Hilton Seoul's Buffet Restaurant (creative name, I know) which had everything from tacos to sashimi to kalbi to prime rib. I had a good four or five servings, but before making any type of judgment, please keep the following in mind:
  • I hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch that day
  • I've been non-Korean food deprived!
  • Cheri + buffet usually = trouble
  • I typically eat more than your average human anyway

Plate #1 - Mmmh, sashimi and smoked salmon.

Plate #2 - I found hamachi, but it wasn't as good as the salmon. The baked white fish (top left center) was to die for - brought back misoyaki butterfish memories...

Plate #3 - I love it when they cook things in front of you, so I couldn't resist trying the cream pasta, and got a little too excited when I saw the shaved parmesan. (You've no idea how $$$ cheese is in this country!)

Plate #4 - Dim sum.

Plate #5 - This was supposed to be the "final dessert tray"... but I started thinking about sashimi again (top right corner), and then spotted a cheese section I had missed earlier (again, in this country, cheese is like a luxury for me.)

As with most buffet restaurants, the desserts were mediocre, except for the butter bread pudding, which I topped with chocolate chips.
Dad, this would have definitely gotten your seal of approval.

Plate #6 - Finally, a trip to a buffet would not be complete without a visit to the ice cream bar.

Next... Indian!

Indian's a bit tough for me to eat in Korea, mostly because I don't have a ton of friends here who are accustomed to it, which can make for a tough sell. YH and I tried a place called Namaste (in Jogno) tonight, and more than the food, I was really happy with the service... it wasn't Korean!

Haha, let me explain. They refilled our water without us having to ask, gave us the check after we were done eating (usually it's given to you at the beginning of your meal and you have to go up to the register to pay), and when I turned around to get a view of the decor, the manager came to our table, and asked if there was anything we needed. I know, I know... this doesn't sound like anything special, but I've really gotten used to shouting, "저기요! 물 좀 주세요!" or ringing the service bell to get someone to pay attention to me. It was nice to feel like a restaurant customer for a change. ^^

Veggie samosa.

Chicken tikka.


Palak paneer curry.

I'm stuffed.